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2021 Budding Botanist Grant Awardees

High school students of color doing science lab work
Dewey High School students will continue their science lab work with take-home hydroponic kits.

Klorane Botanical Foundation and KidsGardening are honored to announce the winners of the 2021 Budding Botanist grant program. The fifteen grants were awarded to school-based educational programs focused on teaching students respect for the environment and the importance of protecting nature through the preservation of plant species and biodiversity. The ultimate goal of the Budding Botanist Grant is to support programs designed to inspire our youngest citizens to value and protect their local ecosystems hoping to cultivate a generation of advocates for our planet. Here is an introduction to some of this year’s winners:

Chimacum Elementary (Chimacum, WA)
Situated in the rain shadow of the Olympic Mountains, Chimacum Elementary will complete a native prairie plant propagation and habitat restoration project that will culminate in the installation of a Rain Shadow Native garden and water catchment system. This project will serve as an extension of their current garden program, where students participate in bi-weekly garden classes taught by a local nonprofit partner.

“Historically our prairies were critical habitat for the endangered Taylor’s Checkerspot butterfly, which has several small breeding populations in nearby Clallam County and the Olympic National Forest. This prairie restoration will allow us to teach about the importance of prairie ecosystems, the role of prairies in carbon sequestration, conservation biology, and the importance of prairies as traditionals sources of food” notes Principal Jason Lynch about the project.

The Rain Shadow Natives component of the project, which will include the propagation of native riparian plants for habitat restoration along local salmon-bearing streams, will serve a similar purpose—allowing students to learn more about their place and how they can make a difference in their local ecosystems. “By teaching students about sustainable practices for growing native plants, restoring ecosystems that provide many benefits, by practicing good watershed stewardship in our school gardens, and by making connections between climate, water, healthy ecosystems, and food, our project will lay the groundwork in students for a lifelong ethic of environmental stewardship.”

William Harvey School of the Ronan School District (Ronan, MT)
With the help of the wider community, the K. William Harvey School plans to revitalize Polliwog Park, a growing space dedicated to native Montana plants, ecological history, and the food cultures of local Indigenous communities, including the Séliš, Ql̓ispé,and Ktunaxa peoples. “Our intention with Polliwog Park is to familiarize students with native plants and trees and to connect them to indigienous and local ecological knowledge, to promote Montana biodiversity, encourage long-term environmental sustainability, and allow students to be passionate about their culture and the ways their ancestors utilized the land around them” says FoodCorps Service Member Lauren Hadley.

Using Budding Botanist funds students from the K. William Harvey school and members of the surrounding community will clear out old infrastructure and invasive plants from the existing Park, replacing them with native seeds and starter plants from a local indigenous seed sovereignty company. “By having the space to grow and harvest native/indigenous plants we will be able to connect students to their home and ancestors. They will get a glimpse of what food sovereignty looked like before colonization. They will become familiar with the seasons and the importance of preserving the land around them for generations to come,” notes Hadely. “Hopefully the plants the children will work with will allow them to become the future generation of land stewards and teach them to respect all the living things around them. 

John Dewey High School (Brooklyn, NY)
“Rigorous lab instruction is difficult to fund in a normal fiscal year and this school year, the needs of students have only grown” shares Jennifer Grace, a Special Education and Science teacher at John Dewey High School. With Budding Botanist Funds, the NY-based school will send 75 hydroponic lab kits to students engaged in remote learning. Science teachers hope that these take-home resources will help bridge the gap between live science lab research opportunities that students would normally expect from in-person learning and the realities of continued at-home learning. “In the past students engaged in lab activities where they were able to manipulate variables, practice investigation skills, and often get their gloved hands dirty. The pandemic has made those lab activities nearly impossible this year.”

The home hydroponic lab kits will be used to promote biodiversity and sustainability through laboratory investigation cycles that emphasize ecological relationships, water and nutrient cycles, and direct environmental action—topics covered in a Living Environment biology course. “The hydroponic home kits will contain five types of seeds: chard, basil, kale, calendula, and pole beans, all of which produce edible plants. The kits will also have pH strips, a pH key; plant nutrients, cotton wicks, Q-plus and clay pebbles, hydroponic growing mediums, a growing container, and a picture guide and manual” says Grace. “By planting, cultivating, and harvesting these edible plants, students can experience first-hand how hydroponics can be a viable alternative to conventional farming. Additionally students will be able to study and run investigations while growing these edible plants, practicing observation, data collection, and other critical STEM skills.”

Here are some snapshots of the rest of our amazing 2021 Budding Botanist Winners

Anderson Mill Elementary School (Austin, TX)

Anderson Mill Elementary school is excited to expand their existing growing space to include a pollinator/wildlife garden, rain garden, and drought tolerant garden.

Bessie Weller Elementary School (Staunton, VA)
Educators at Bessie Weller Elementary School will bring hands-on gardening activities to students learning remotely through the creation and delivery of life cycle themed take home Grow Kits.

Celentano Biotech, Health and Medical Magnet School (New Haven, CT)
Celentano Biotech, Health and Medical Magnet School will distribute garden kits to students participating in distance learning, giving youth the opportunity to create micro greenhouses and container gardens that they can share with their families.

Charter School of the Dunes (Gary, IN)
Through a partnership with the Gary Food Council and Purdue Extension, the Charter School of the Dunes plans to facilitate an afterschool program that will allow students to become certified as Junior Urban Farmers.

Crain's Creek Middle School (Carthage, NC)
Crain’s Creek Middle School looks forward to adding native pollinator beds to their garden to use in conjunction with an elective STEAM Learning Garden course.

Crystal Lake Middle School (Lakeland, FL)
With help from their local Water Management District, students at Crystal Lake Middle School will design and create a Rain Garden as part of a wider project focused on the ecological impact of stormwater runoff and water pollution.

Freeman Elementary School (Flint, MI)
Freeman Elementary School will expand garden-based learning opportunities by installing a designated monarch butterfly waystation, native Michigan berry beds, bird habitat, and more.

Glenwood Springs Elementary School (Glenwood Springs, CO)
Teachers are thrilled to make their dreams of a climate controlled, drip irrigated, solar-powered high tunnel greenhouse a reality at Glenwood Spring Elementary School.

Indiana School for the Deaf (Indianapolis, IN)
The Indiana School for the Deaf will revitalize an old greenhouse and purchase hydroponic equipment to use as part of an Exploring Agriculture Program that provides death youth with vocational training.

Nathaniel Hawthorne School (Milwaukee, WI)
The installation of raised beds will go hand-in-hand with a large-scale initiative to transform an asphalt playground into an engaging nature-inspired landscape at the Nathaniel Hawthorne School.

Robert Louis Stevenson Elementary School (San Francisco, CA)
The Robert Louis Stevenson Elementary School will offer take-home garden learning kits, complete with native California plants, to all students in an effort to enhance weekly virtual garden lessons.

The Volcano School of Arts & Sciences (Volcano, HI)
The Ka Mala Maluhia (Children’s Peaceful Garden) at the Volcano School of Arts will feature an abundance of native Hawaiian plants, from vegetables and herbs to medical plants and pollinator-friendly varietals.